Have you ever been in a hurry or just plain frustrated to where you were rather curt or downright rude to someone?
We tend to do this more with those we’re closest to rather than with strangers. We use harsh words, we nitpick, we exaggerate, and we wound. Sometimes we do it with our children and often we do it with our spouses. Some of us do it so much it has become a habit and to the point where we don’t even realize we are tearing down the very ones God has entrusted us to lift up. But God tells us in Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
We are called, Instead, to support, be helpful, positive and uplifting.
The Lord tells us to control our tongue:
Proverbs 10:19 “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
Proverbs 11:12 “He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”
Proverbs 11:13 “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.”
Proverbs 21:23 “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.” x
Because otherwise we may either communicate that we don’t care or wound others:
Proverbs 16:28 “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.”
Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.”
Proverbs 25:18 “A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.”
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Proverbs 20:19 “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lip.”
Knowing that we are to control our tongue and uplift others is one thing, but doing it is quite another. It’s hard to be nice when we are frustrated. It’s not easy to be uplifting when we feel pressed for time. Here are three simple tips that will help you to be more grace filled in your communication with others—especially those in our immediate family.
Three Tips to Soften Our Hearts and Words:
1. Ask yourself if what you are about to say is necessary and if it honors God. Is what you are about to say something that really needs to be said? Is it really all that important that you correct Mary’s English or do you think everyone understood her well enough?
Unless the crowd would be convinced of evil or it would do them some amount of damage, isn’t it better to leave Mary’s words alone rather than nitpick her English and make her feel inferior?
Is what you are about to day honoring to God or are you just convinced that you are the self appointed Conversation Correction Patrol? If what you are about to say will honor God by righting a wrong, correcting an injustice or helping someone, then go ahead.
However, if what you are going to say will not reflect a loving God, then your mother was right, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
2. Put yourself in their shoes. If God is calling you to say something, think first how you might feel if you were in their shoes. How would you want it to be said? Sharing a difficult bit of information is better said and easier heard if you do it in grace and with respect. Put yourself in their shoes and then word your communication accordingly.
3. Smile. It’s hard to be harsh when you’re smiling. If what you’re about to say is of a more serious nature, smile on the inside as you say it. Smiling helps soften your heart and choose your words more respectfully.
Taking the time to think through what you are doing to say actually saves time in the long run. You’ll speak carefully so you won’t have to go back and correct yourself and you’ll speak graciously so you won’t have to go back and apologize for yourself either.
Taking the time to freshen up our communication to be more uplifting actually causes less stress in our lives as well. So take the time to be uplifting and supportive to others and to speak words of love and care instead of the hurried harsh words we tend to give those closest to us. Obviously, there is a lot more to it than just these three tips would lead you to believe.
If you’d like some more information on how to speak in grace I suggest downloading sample lessons from two of our communication studies: 21 Days to More Godly Communication and Say What You Mean: Avoiding, Reducing and Resolving Conflicts.